MTA launch event, 2021-07-17

by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society


The UCLA Project Prometheus had reserved the RRS MTA for Saturday, July 17, 2021, for another round of static fire testing of a nitrous oxide hybrid motor on our vertical test stand.  Dave Crisalli was the pyrotechnic operator in charge for that day and recorded the successful static fire.  The footage will be posted on the society Instagram page soon.

This summer semester test would demonstrate UCLA’s student designed and built custom hybrid motor.  Average thrust was around 300 lbf with a maximum value of 349 lbf.  Total impulse recorded was 2044 lbf-sec (in the M-motor range).  UCLA shared a few pictures from the event.

Success on the stand…
…starts with good testing in the lab

This was another great example of a university team success thanks to careful design, lab testing, training, planning and smart, in-the-field engineering.  The RRS is glad to offer our facility and technical advice.  The RRS looks forward to working with UCLA again soon.

For teams seeking to schedule the use the RRS MTA, please contact the RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti.  Always include a full project description such that the society can accurately evaluate your request.

president@rrs.org


July 2021 Virtual Meeting


by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place Friday, July 9th and had 15 attendees who came and went – all members. We kicked off the meeting chatting about various items, including the news that Relativity Space (a 3D-Printed rocket engine company led by 2 USC Rocket Propulsion graduates who have tested rockets at the MTA) has just signed a contract for a building in Long Beach.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

RICHARD BUTTERFIELD REMEMBERANCES

The RRS received sad news of the passing of an extremely devoted and well liked member – Richard Butterfield. Richard became a member of the RRS in the 1950s, and was heavily involved in recruiting new members for the organization while he lived in Long Beach working for a local aerospace company. Eventually, he moved out to the Mojave Desert at some land to the northwest of the MTA. Following a fire at his property which destroyed his workshop & part of his house he moved back into town.

Richard Ransom Butterfield, 1933-2021

Several members who knew Richard shared their remembrances and stories of Richard, recalling that he was always very welcoming to those new to the hobby. All spoke very highly of him. We intend to compile a more formal collection of stories (and photos) to pay proper tribute to this great man.

MTA PERMANENT BATHROOM UPDATE

Progress is continuing on the permanent RRS Bathroom structure. A 20-foot shipping container has been purchased and work is being done to cut out areas for doors and ventilation windows. That work is expected to be completed within the next week or 2, at which time the container will be delivered to a hangar of RRS member Wilbur Owens for the next stages of construction including adding plumbing, fixtures, and the doors and windows. See below for a schematic of the current plans for the bathroom.

A side-view and floor plan of the container bathroom

The bathroom conversation opened a discussion on other MTA site improvements that members would like to see – including solar power solutions, firefighting (possibly via a Kowasaki mule or similar ATV), and sun-protection behind the Dosa building. While the bathroom is the top site improvement priority, these other improvements are an important part of providing a world-class location for amateur rocket enthusiasts to conduct their activities.

AMAZON SMILE DONATION

The RRS received $23 in donations as a result of members and others using smile.amazon.com when ordering online – and selecting the Reaction Research Society as the charity to benefit. Thank you to all who have helped with this contribution, it should help us celebrate when we can finally have our monthly meetings in-person once again (pizza party anyone?).

Register your account with Amazon Smile to donate to the Reaction Research Society

IN-PERSON MEETINGS IN GARDENA

While the City of Gardena does not have concrete plans on when they may re-open the Ken Nakaoka Community Center – they have informed us that it will be the last thing that is going to open. It sounds like Gardena is taking a very cautious approach, and intends to see how opening the parks goes first and then move from there. While we don’t know for sure – the hope is that we may be able to host an in-person meeting in September. Members will be informed via the monthly meeting invite once meetings will be allowed in person again.

Out of town members (temporary or permanent) don’t need to worry – we will continue to provide a zoom component for our meetings to allow those members to join. We have several members who have been very dedicated to meetings but would have trouble making it in-person & we want to keep everyone engaged! Not to mention it makes guest presentations from colleges and other groups from around the country much easier.

CLASSES & COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Frank has been working diligently to set up classes to get back to our community outreach of getting the local youth exposed to & excited about rocketry. The goal is to teach out of the Strive learning facility in Watts, which has been providing a space for local at-risk youth to expand their horizons for over 30 years. We pan to teach the classes on Wednesdays in September – and then taking the kids for a launch day at the MTA in early October.

Frank showing information about the Strive Learning Center to the RRS membership

Any members interested in assisting the teaching of these classes can reach out to Frank at: vicepresident@rrs.org.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, August 13th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org

Please check your spam folders and add secretary@rrs.org to your email whitelist to make sure you receive the invitation.

MTA launch event, 2021-06-19

by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society


The society held a launch event at the Mojave Test Area on June 19th. With many people having other plans, we were sparsely attended but able to get a few things done. The winds were very low and sun was very hot that day (105 F) making it a challenge to operate at the site, but with each other’s help we managed. I was the pyrotechnic operator in charge that day. I had intended to bring my hybrid rocket for this event but wasn’t able to complete the rocket in time. It would be Bill Inman’s Solar Cat, a pair of micrograin alphas and witnessing the UCLA Prometheus team launch their hybrid rocket after getting a replacement nozzle from the motor supplier.

UCLA Prometheus team posing before bringing their hybrid rocket to the launch rail at FAR.

BILL INMAN’S SOLAR CAT

Bill Inman and Jon Wells made the journey from Nevada to demonstrate a new sun tracking system improvement to better automate the solar heating process with the parabolic mirror. Unfortunately, there were several problems with the installation that ultimately went unresolved for that day. A series of benchtop tests would be needed before bringing his combined solar collector and rail launcher back to the MTA for a launch.

Bill had also expressed concerns about vibration from over-the-road travel taking its toll on the structure. He was already considering a major rebuild of his parabolic collector with a wider aperture. The next iteration of the Solar Cat is also supposed to be larger in diameter and capacity. With the Solar Cat work at a halt, Bill and Jon came over to assist Manny Marquez and myself with the loading of a pair of RRS standard alphas.

A PAIR OF ALPHAS

Osvaldo Tarditti was unable to attend this event, but he did measure out the zinc and sulfur in separate pre-weighed bags and provided a clean pair of alpha parts complete with the nozzles and well-painted, turned and recovered aluminum nosecones. For our new members, the society likes to give the experience of micrograin rocketry. Manny, Bill and Jon would have their first experience loading and firing an alpha that day. The society hasn’t launched many micrograin rockets since before the pandemic.

Manny Marquez loads the pre-weighed charges of zinc and sulfur powders before closing up the mixing barrel.
With the generator powering the electric motor driven roller, the drum sits and gently rolls mixing the zinc and sulfur to a consistent mixture.

Manny was a big help getting the equipment out and running. I was able to train him in the old RRS tradition of micrograin rocketry. With only two rockets, we gave the loading duties to Bill and Jon. For their handling of the dirty task of slowly loading the propellant tubes, they each got the honor of finishing the build and preparing for launch.

New member, Jon Wells (left) and returning member, Bill Inman (right) hold the first of two loaded alpha propellant tubes.
Bill Inman doing the hook-up under oppressive heat.

I was able to teach Bill, Jon and Manny the safe procedure for hooking up back to the control box in the blockhouse. With a well rehearsed procedure including air-and-road checks, we notified FAR in advance of firing our two alphas for that day to prevent anyone from wandering downrange before we fired.

Still capture from the launch of Bill Inman’s alpha; fast as hell

We each got a good lesson in the value of teamwork and a renewed respect for the heat of summer. The micrograin rocket is a simple but powerful initiation into experimental rocketry.

We all brought a lot of ice and drinks for that day and it was a big help.

Our next event has not been scheduled but we do plan to return to the MTA in July 2021. For members interested in planning the next event at the MTA, contact the RRS president and the executive council.

president@rrs.org